Wales Badger Found Dead Project
What is the project?
The Wales Badger Found Dead project was put in place by the Welsh Government as part of their bovine TB eradication plan, to assess the prevalence of Bovine TB in badgers in Wales. It was originally run by APHA, and the Wales Veterinary Science Centre have been running the project since late 2017.
Farm First Vets are part of the network of veterinary practices across Wales which act as drop-off centres for dead badgers.
We collect the dead badgers for post-mortem by the WVSC and the results are used to provide useful information on the nature of the disease within the badger population across Wales.
How does it work?
When we get a notification about a dead badger, the vets collect these badgers while on their usual rounds. If the badger is suitable, the vets take it back to the practice and store it in a ‘badger fridge’. We then arrange for collection of the badger which is taken to the WVSC which is the main centre for post-mortem.
Can all dead badgers be tested?
The main aim from the post-mortem is to obtain samples for bacterial culture. Unfortunately, if samples are unable to be taken, the badger is not suitable for the project. Severely decayed badgers where the hair and skin is coming off, badgers covered in maggots and those severely damaged are unsuitable for this reason. If a badger is unsuitable, the vet called to collect it will simply leave it there and let the Badger Found Dead helpline know as this is useful in understanding where the badger populations are in general.
What happens after the post-mortem?
As well as examining the carcase for signs of Bovine TB, the badgers are also checked for illegal interference, trap-related injuries, and samples are taken for research projects. Positive Bovine TB samples undergo whole genome sequencing by epidemiologists to aid identification of an outbreak source or spread. We all know that cattle spread it to badgers and badgers spread it to cattle, however, there is more need in individual farms to find the source and spread so that the correct method of control can be implemented.
Scientific papers are written using the data, the more data we get the better the sample size and the more useful the results are.
How can you help?
We need the public to report dead badgers to us. You can let us know by phone or email or call into the practice. We will need to know where it is so some directions, a grid reference or ‘what3words’ are all very useful.
You can also contact the Badger Found Dead helpline: 0808 1695 110 or visit the website here for more details: https://www.bfd.wales
It is important that you do not handle a dead badger or interfere with a carcase in any way.
If you find an injured badger you can contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour national advice line on 0300 1234 999.
Do not on any account attempt to handle any injured badgers as they can inflict serious injuries. They may also be infected with Bovine TB.